Women’s Soccer: Success & Heartbreak
Despite Outstanding Season, Women’s Soccer Falls Short of Playoffs
By Ryan Carius ’21
On April 12, the Providence College Women’s Soccer Team concluded a tremendous season. Their draw against St. John’s University cemented a final record of 7-2-3. PC came heartbreakingly close to competing for the Big East tournament, but missed out even with a strong record because of new tournament requirements adopted for the altered season. In addition to this season being played in the spring, as opposed to the normal fall season, entrance to the Big East tournament was determined by winning percentage, not overall record. The conference was also then split into two divisions, with only two teams receiving a bid from each division.
Although the Friars missed the tournament, coach Sam Lopes praised the team for their tireless effort throughout the spring: “It was a very successful season, and a lot of it can be attributed to the talent that exists in the group and our depth.” During the duration of the 90-minute games, Lopes was able to confidently utilize 21 players, all capable of playing and helping the team win.
Lopes also remains optimistic about a season that was filled with success: “The group is certainly disappointed, but I don’t think that erases the success that we had and also the level of excitement that we have going towards our fall season because we know what we are capable of.”
The record is impressive in itself, but it is made more so when considering the uncertainty born out of the shift from the fall to the spring season, and more importantly, an offseason training program in the winter. However, the offseason proved to be vital for creating team chemistry after nearly a year of instability. “All the new players and all the returning players got a semester to some capacity to train and develop some relationships with each other before having to play a competitive match,” said Lopes as he explained the benefits of the long offseason. As tough as training in the harsh winter conditions and acclimating to warmer spring temperatures can be, Lopes believes that “the spring showcased that level of connection amongst the group from a fall semester of training.”
That group was filled with freshmen who had the tall task of replacing a strong roster of graduating seniors. They did just that, playing to the standard set by the previous year’s players. Goalkeeper Emma Bodmer ’24, in particular, had to replace Friar legend Shelby Hogan ’20RS. Throughout the season, Bodmer proved to be a worthy successor to Hogan, achieving great success in just her first year at the collegiate level.
Lopes praised Bodmer’s abilities in the net, saying that “we just felt Emma had a level of confidence and presence about her.” After “spending some time with her in the fall, we felt that she would be equally capable of the job in goal as Shelby [Hogan] had been in the past.”
Along with Bodmer’s tremendous play, Meg Hughes ’24 was voted Big East Freshman of the Year, becoming only the second PC women’s soccer player to ever receive the honor. Hughes led the Friars in points with 12, assists with six, and tied for the team lead in goals scored alongside Amber Birchwell ’21 with four. Lopes was not at all surprised by Hughes’ receiving the honor, saying that it was “really telling of her capabilities and the amount of respect that she has already earned among her peers in the league.”
In addition to both Bodmer and Hughes, Lopes lauded the play of the six other Friar freshmen, who each had a large impact on the season. Lopes expressed great enthusiasm for the return of these players in the fall. “Those eight individuals have come in and already established themselves within our program, and have developed an understanding of what it takes to compete at this level,” explained Lopes. “I think they will be really instrumental as we continue to be on this consistent successful trajectory.”
Also vital to the team’s success were its seniors. They played the role of establishing the winning standard of the team, constantly driving up the level of play that would lead to the program’s ultimate success. Lopes highlighted the contributions of the seniors who “did an unbelievable job in helping the new players to get settled in and really helped educate them about who we are and our cultural values.” With the extra year of eligibility option for seniors, some will be returning for the fall season, ensuring that at least some of the team’s leadership will still be around next year as well.
When asked about his goals for next season, Lopes explained that it is about the daily battles that will ultimately decide the team’s success. “What we are working towards is being a winner consistently day in and day out,” he explained. “We took significant steps towards that this year.” From this response, it is no surprise that the Friars were able to have a great season in a competitive division such as the Big East.
As PC turns their focus to next season, it is safe to say that they will most certainly be in the mix for a Big East title. “I think we have the talent and I think we have the right fixture of players, but more importantly I think we have the right attitude for it,” said Lopes confidently.
With the majority of players from this season returning, the right attitude in place, and an inspiring coach, it will be exciting for the student body to attend a full slate of games in person this fall season. Lopes proudly stated, “I think now we have established a program that is nationally competitive, and for us in a highly competitive league, we want the next step to be being competitive to win the Big East.”
The Friars certainly showed the potential to do just that this spring, and with a hopefully normal season set for the fall, the sky is the limit for Lopes and the Friars.
Lake Tahoe: Hockey in the Great Outdoors
NHL Heads West For Outdoor Games
By Ryan Carius ’21
On Feb. 20, the NHL returned to its roots: hockey on an outdoor stage. That stage was Lake Tahoe, the United States’ largest alpine lake, in close proximity to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The event was a two-day matchup featuring two top opponents in the MassMutual East Division and two cup contenders in the Honda West Division.
The first game of the two matches, on Bridgestone NHL Outdoors Saturday, occurred on Feb. 20 and featured the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche. The Vegas Golden Knights started the season red hot and continued to maintain a top spot in the West Division leading up to puck-drop, but faced a very talented Avalanche team that was only a few games behind the Golden Knights for first place.
The anticipation for this game ensured an exciting first period filled with breathtaking views. Upon completion of the first period, though, the NHL called for a delay to protect players and referees from the hazardous condition of the ice, as the heat made it difficult to maintain a smooth surface. Several holes appeared throughout the rink, causing multiple players to trip and fall.
The NHL decided to delay the game until midnight, giving the players about an eight-hour break between the first and second periods. Once the game restarted, the teams arguably played in the greatest outdoor setting and on ideal conditions. The true masterpiece of a setting was a dream for hockey players and fans alike. Ultimately, the Avalanche were victorious, but it was a close game that showcased the talent of both teams and some of the most highly skilled players in the NHL.
The next matchup, on Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday, was also pushed back to a later time in the day to ensure that the NHL could repair the ice and avoid the conditions experienced the previous day. The Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers both wore their retro jerseys to honor this distinct opportunity. David Pastrnak started off red-hot, scoring within the first minute, demonstrating why the Boston Bruins offense is a force to be reckoned with.
Even against a formidable Flyer defense and a young star goaltender in Carter Hart, the Bruins offense was too much to handle. As the game carried on, Philadelphia seemed to unravel and the Bruins were able to net an additional six goals, dominating the Flyers 7-3. Although this second game was not as close as the previous matchup, the conditions of the ice were at least not problematic.
Over the previous years, the NHL has been able to push the limits of where ice hockey can be played. This year, the NHL certainly gave the fans an experience like no other. Although this game was unfortunately not able to allow fan attendance, some spectators were lucky enough to watch from Lake Tahoe on their own boats. Even so, the aesthetic between the ice, Lake Tahoe, and the Sierra Nevada background created an unconventional yet amazing viewing experience for the fans watching from their couches at home.
Despite the delays, the two games were successful, and the NHL can certainly learn from the weather conditions of this experiment with outdoor hockey. One can be optimistic that once hockey returns to normal, the NHL will increase the number of outdoor games at various locations. These Lake Tahoe games displayed that the NHL has evolved past just one annual outdoor game, the Winter Classic, to a league featuring multiple matchups at breathtaking locations.
PCI: Where Will QB Deshaun Watson End Up?
Providence College Investigates: The NFL
Hopefully, The New York Jets
By Ryan Carius ’21
Upon the completion of the Super Bowl, football fanatics have turned to trade rumors, the impending free agency period, and the NFL draft for sources of entertainment. On top of the list of trade rumors is Deshaun Watson, quarterback for the Houston Texans.
Although the Texans front office keeps downplaying rumors of a trade, Watson wants to depart after four years in Houston. Multiple NFL teams have expressed interest in trading for Watson, leaving fans on the edge of their seats wondering where the superstar will end up.
Any potential return for Watson in a trade will feature a tremendous haul of draft picks and possibly even players. In particular, the New York Jets are a very realistic buyer in the Watson sweepstakes. The Jets have an excess of draft picks, most notably the second overall draft pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. The Jets also hold the 23rd overall pick, a pick acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams. These two picks will almost surely be included if the Jets have any hopes of acquiring the superstar quarterback.
Another factor working in the Jets’ favor is the possibility of a Sam Darnold trade. It seems very likely that the Jets will draft or trade for another quarterback and settle for a second-round draft pick in exchange for Darnold, the former third-overall pick in the 2018 draft. With an additional draft pick received for Darnold, Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas would gain another pick that could be flipped for Watson.
Jets fans would certainly find it reassuring to acquire Watson via trade instead of drafting either Zach Wilson from Brigham Young University or Justin Fields from Ohio State University. It is almost certain that Trevor Lawrence of Clemson University will be off the board with the first overall pick. Lawrence, without question, would have been the best quarterback to draft if New York had the first pick. Now, with the second pick, the Jets’ office is in a similar situation as they were when they took Darnold in 2018.
While it would be unfair to rule out the possibility of Wilson or Fields becoming stars in the NFL one day, if the Jets have the chance to obtain Watson, they should not hesitate. Another factor to add to the uncertainty of the rookie quarterbacks is the cancelation of the NFL combine. General managers will not have the ability to assess potential draft picks, instead relying on their college film.
The Jets cannot afford to miss out on acquiring a culture-changing quarterback like Watson. If the Texans call, the Jets need to pick up the phone and get the deal done.
Ignore the Noise: Houston
By Liam Tormey ’22
Sports Assistant Editor
The Houston Texans traded away star receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, as well as a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick. Long-time defensive cornerstone J.J. Watt recently asked to be released. Indeed, the Texans are in disarray, but they simply cannot afford to trade Deshaun Watson.
The franchise quarterback wants out of Houston and has said he does not want to play another snap for the organization. After he was not involved in the hiring of new general manager Nick Caserio, and after the Texans failed to hire Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as head coach, Watson was frustrated.
Although a trade seems likely, there is strong reason to believe that Watson may still be part of the Texans organization when the season starts. After an interview with Caserio at the end of January,, Caserio stated, “We have zero interest in trading the player.”
Watson, who has a career 28-25 record with a 67.8 percent completion percentage, 104 touchdowns, 36 interceptions, and 269.2 yards per game, may not have much of a choice even if he wants out of Houston.
Over the course of recent years, it has become common for players within the NBA to ask for trades, putting their respective organizations in a difficult position. This phenomenon now blended over to the NFL, as is seen in the case of Watson and other star players recently like Jalen Ramsey and Antonio Brown.
However, it should not be this easy for players to demand a trade away from a team. Watson’s personal unhappiness should not require the Texans to trade him. He is still a part of the organization, and the Texans must do everything they can to keep such a talent.
In light of Houston’s salary cap situation, trading Deshaun Watson would most likely mean having to absorb $21.6 million in dead money over the course of the next several years, putting the Texans well over the cap limit. Of course, the Texans can restructure the rest of their roster, but trading Watson would put them at a major financial disadvantage.
Houston does have leverage over Watson. According to sports writer Adam Schefter, the Texans can fine Watson $95,877 for missing minicamp, $50,000 per day of training camp missed plus one week’s salary, and $620,000 for each preseason game missed. Finally, the Texans can collect the $21.6 million if Watson retires.
Yes, Deshaun Watson wants out of Houston, but no player is bigger than the organization itself. The Houston Texans need to make the right decision and not trade their superstar quarterback.
Brady vs. Mahomes: The Past Takes on the Future
by Ryan Carius ’21
The first NFL season during the COVID-19 pandemic will come to a close on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay. The main story headed into the matchup is the two quarterbacks under center as Super Bowl LV will feature arguably the two most renowned quarterbacks competing in the league. This competition between Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes has more than the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line.
Although neither quarterback will admit it, this game is for bragging rights. Brady’s route to the Super Bowl was not easy. After dispatching Taylor Heinicke of the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card matchup, Brady defeated two legends in both Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers to get to the big game. If Brady can complete this run by defeating Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl, it will add yet another impressive accomplishment to his unmatched resume. Although, he certainly has enough on his resume regardless of the outcome of Super Bowl LV.
For Mahomes, facing Brady in the Super Bowl should be enough motivation for the star QB to play his best. However, this game also serves as revenge for the 2019 AFC Championship Game, in which the New England Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime, 37-31.
Mahomes’s rise to stardom has taken a much different path than Brady’s, but ever since starting for the Chiefs in his second season, Mahomes has been one of the best players in the entire NFL. In just his third year as the starting quarterback for the Chiefs, Mahomes is now in his second Super Bowl and is favored to collect his second Lombardi Trophy. Although two Super Bowls would not be enough for Mahomes to compete with Brady’s legacy just yet, the potential is there. Indeed, if Mahomes continues at this pace, it may very well be enough to ask the question: will Mahomes someday replace Brady as the Greatest of All Time?
One day, when Mahomes’s career is over, there will be much comparison between the two quarterbacks’ career statistics. If one measures greatness by career titles, it is hard to imagine supplanting Brady’s six, and potentially soon seven, Super Bowl titles. However, given that Mahomes could win his second title in just three seasons as starting quarterback, he is on pace to pass Brady if he has a successful 20-season career.
It is also worth examining statistics like passer rating, passing yards, or touchdowns in one’s pursuit of naming the GOAT. Although Brady has thrown for the most TDs in NFL history, he is not the number one quarterback in passer rating or passing yards. What makes Tom Brady stand out is his tremendous success during the postseason. Tom Brady is 30-11 in the postseason with a win percentage of 73.1%. He’s also thrown for 73 touchdowns. In comparison, Patrick Mahomes has played in only seven playoff games with a record of six wins and one loss, about a winning percentage of 85%. During that span, he threw 17 TD passes, a number which will surely increase during this Super Bowl and his many playoff games yet to come.
With these impressive numbers in just three postseasons, Mahomes will be compared to Tom Brady throughout the remainder of his career. For this reason, the argument of whether or not Patrick Mahomes will replace Tom Brady as the GOAT is yet to be determined. There are also other factors to consider, such as who had the better coach, better team, and tougher opponents throughout their respective careers. However, if Brady can win this game and prove that his success did not just come from a partnership with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, he will permanently cement himself as a true winner, regardless of what organization he plays for.
On the other hand, what makes Patrick Mahomes so appealing to most football fans is the possibility of him being a generational player that can also compete for the title of the Greatest of All Time at the quarterback position. While it might be nice to believe Mahomes can capture this accolade, it will take a very long and successful career to catch up to Brady, a pursuit which will make the NFL entertaining to watch for years to come.
Hockey East Stays in Scheduling Limbo
Friars Remain Prepared for Eventual Season Opener
by Ryan Carius ’21
In September, the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) delayed the 2020-2021 NCAA men’s hockey season due to a nationwide increase in COVID-19 cases and the virus’s ongoing effects. Recently, the HCA stated that each of the 11 conferences would have the autonomy to decide when it would be safe for college hockey to commence. Friar fanatics should expect an intense season with challenging opponents; however, it seems that the HCA will inhibit out-of-conference competition. At this moment, the Hockey East Association has not yet announced an opening date, a regular season schedule, or a location and date for the Hockey East Tournament.
The Hockey East Association plans to ensure the safety, mental, and physical well-being of all student-athletes, coaching personnel, on-ice officials, and administrators. An important factor in the potential success of a Hockey East season during the pandemic is the proximity that the colleges and universities have to one another, as members of the league play most conference games in the northeast. The league proposed creating multiple balanced schedule models, a move that the Hockey East hopes will increase safety and flexibility during the uncertainty of the pandemic. They also must cooperate with the guidelines established by federal, state, and local authorities, which could prove to complicate transportation to and from games.
Steve Metcalf was appointed as the new commissioner of the Hockey East Association in February, shortly before the season was abruptly canceled due to COVID-19. The commissioner expressed his optimism in regards to the Hockey East’s return to play and highlighted the advantages of the northeast. Metcalf made the point that the league is “taking advantage of our geography and our current situation we are in in New England. COVID-related [we have it] a lot better than other situations,” given that New England has fewer cases than many other regions in the country. Although the schedule has been delayed and is yet to be released, the Hockey East has worked relentlessly to ensure that there will be a season. Metcalf understands the challenges of the Hockey East, saying that there is “a lot of work to be done— what the module looks like, what our return play protocols are like, how we are going to handle all that for sure—and that is work that is happening everyday.”
This season, the Friars are looking to redeem their previous season that was cut short and compete for their third Hockey East Championship. The Hockey East will be very competitive, as both Boston College and Boston University are stacked with talented prospects and great coaching. However, the Friars added multiple elite transfers and have three new draftees in the 2020 NHL draft.
These three recent draftees consist of Brett Berard ’24, Chase Yoder ’24, and future Friar Riley Duran. Each should bring a unique style of play to the ice. Berard and Yoder will look to make an immediate impact and will greatly help the Friars’ scoring attack this upcoming season. However, Friar fans will have to wait another season to watch Duran grace the ice, as he will spend this upcoming year with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.
This NCAA season will present all kinds of challenges for the Friars; however, the Hockey East is working diligently to create a safe environment for these student athletes. In no time at all, Friar hockey will be back.